Georgia. An Eastern European country that was part of the former USSR. It is a place where people living in Gulf countries can visit at a low cost. Our family of three from Dubai visited Georgia last week. The journey was on an Air Arabia flight from Sharjah to Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia at 1.15 pm on Friday. There are daily flights from Sharjah and Dubai to Tbilisi and Batumi. Arrived in Tbilisi in 3 hours. It’s UAE time. The time zone is unchanged. Busy airport. Visa is not required for GCC residents. A free entry permit for 90 days is available at immigration. Travel insurance must be taken. I have read many reports that some who went earlier were denied entry. But we had no problem. An airport with no rush. Within ten minutes we cleared immigration and got out with our bags.
As the auto taxi drivers round up the foreigners who come to our country; Someone asked me if I wanted a taxi. He said that it is necessary because his method has no side. But before that, the dollar in hand must change. The taxi driver said in poor English that it is a loss to change at the airport, as the profit is in the city. It only changed $100. Larri, that’s the name of the Georgian currency. 1 Lari = 100 Tetris. For 100 dollars you get about 240 GEL (abbreviation for Georgian lari). 1 lari is equal to about one and a half dirhams. That is about 28 Indian Rupees. I Changed the money and gave the address to the taxi driver. City Avenue Hotel. Agmashanabeli Avenue, and asked how much is the taxi charge. After calculating something in his mind, he said 200 lari. When told that it was too much, he finally said he would go for 150. So we went out with him.
Outside in the parking lot, as we put the bags in his Mercedes car, a girl who looked about 10 years old followed us begging for alms. A cloth is wrapped around a wound on the arm. Somehow avoided her and drove off in his car. The vehicle we were traveling in had no taxi board. But we could see many taxi-boarded vehicles outside. It was then I felt that I had lost money. He mumbled something in poor English and rushed through the streets of Tbilisi toward the hotel. It is to come back and catch the next victim. Reached the hotel in 20-25 minutes. He dropped us there and ran away.
Places to visit in Tbilisi
Checked in at the hotel. Around 5.30 PM. Asked the receptionist how much would a taxi cost from the airport to here. 50 Larry, she replied. The first experience I had when I landed in Georgia was a lesson learned anyway.
Things to do in Tbilisi | what to see in Tbilisi in one day
It is a journey without proper planning. I know a few places to go from watching YouTube videos. There are 5 days from Saturday to Wednesday. Going back on Thursday. The return flight is on Thursday evening. So there will be no traveling on Thursday. Went out after resting for a while. Need to get a SIM card. It was not bought from the airport. It was learned from the hotel reception that the phone shop will be closed at this time and it will be possible to buy it tomorrow. He withdrew some dollars from the nearby bank.
Bridge of peace
The aim is to see a footbridge called the Bridge of peace with the knowledge seen from YouTube etc. It’s summer. But it is cloudy and slightly cold. He waved to a taxi. He luckily knows a little English. He did not understand after saying Bridge of peace. He asks where is its address. Then we looked at other places that we know. Liberty Square. He understood that. So the car started moving towards Liberty Square. He said it’s easy to go anywhere in Georgia if you have an address including a building number. On the way, we could see the Bridge of Peace. He left us there when he told us that is where we want to go. The car stopped in front of the famous Shangri la casino. Opposite it is the bridge we need to see.
Bridge of peace. A walkway across the Mtkvari (Kura) river runs through the heart of Tbilisi. It is made in a special way. Full of LED bulbs. At night they are beautiful to look at when lit up. The bridge is quite busy. In the central broad area, a musical band is singing along with guitars, etc. Such singers can be found in many streets of Tbilisi. Mention should be made of the hassle of agents to get people for evening rides on river cruise boats. Beggars are like that. Old women and young women begging with children and babies are a common sight in Tbilisi. The bridge leads down to a park named Rike park. This side of the river is Old Tbilisi and the other side is New Tbilisi. If you stand in the park, you can see the Presidential palace, The statue of the Mother of Georgia, cable car going there, Narikala fortress, etc. In the beautiful dusk covered by the rain areas, we captured the pleasure boats plying on the Mtkvari river and the illuminated city views on camera, enjoyed the cool breeze, spent some time there, and returned back to the hotel. It was past 8 o’clock. The sun is about to set. After dinner at the Spice Garden Indian restaurant opposite the hotel, we returned to the hotel and went to bed.
In the morning when I opened the window of the room and looked outside, it was raining outside. I had an umbrella with me because I knew it would rain. Breakfast was served. The places to see in the next few days are a bit further away. A vehicle will be required. When I inquired at the hotel reception, there is a vehicle charge of 150 dollars per day. A friend has the number of a tour guide who took them when they visited Georgia earlier. I thought I could call him and ask him and decide. Today the goal is to see the rest of Tbilisi. But rain is a problem. Anyway, We went out with an umbrella.
Best Sim Connection in Georgia For International Travelers
First I need to get a SIM card. After looking on Google, I came to know that the best connection is the company MAGTICOM. The office is next door. If you show your passport, you will get a SIM and a traveler’s card with a validity of 2 weeks. Local calls are free. Half-hour international call. 3 GB data. The charge is 35 GEL. After making the connection, we started the journey again to the part we left yesterday. It’s raining non-stop. The taxi driver dropped us near the destination cable car station. Taxi charge 5 lari. I paid 100 lari and he has no change in his hand. I ran and walked in the rain and asked many people. There is no change in anyone’s hands. Then I went to a nearby restaurant and asked. They also had no change. When they said I could buy a bottle of wine, they grabbed some change. When I went back, the taxi driver was smoking a cigarette and muttering something. Must be calling me wrong in Georgian. We left him and reached the cable car station.
The cable car ride to the top of Sololaki Hill. Metro card is available at the ticket station there. This card can be used on the metro and bus. The one-way cable car journey is 2 Lari per person. Children’s travel is completely free. Children are admitted free of charge anywhere in Georgia at tourist attractions that charge an entrance fee. There is a footpath to reach the top of the hill without the cable car. You can also reach there by car. But cable car travel with an aerial view is better. Had to queue for about fifteen minutes. Take the cable car to the top. It was raining so I couldn’t see much of the scenery outside. We got down at the hill station.
The Mother of Georgia (Kartlis Deda)
There are three attractions on top of this hill. One is The Mother of Georgia (Kartlis Deda in the local language). It is a 20-meter-tall statue of a woman. A Georgian woman carries a wine cup symbolizing friendship in one hand and a sword for enemies in the other. This statue is situated on the highest part of this hill. The view of Tbilisi from here is very beautiful. But the rain that was falling non-stop was a villain. There is no standing space in front of this statue. It is a steep hill. So there is no way to take a photo from in front of it.
Narikala fortress | St. Nicholas Orthodox Church
Another attraction located near the statue is the Narikala fortress built in the 4th century and St. Nicholas Church. By the time I finished seeing the sights in the fort, the rain had subsided. It is very difficult to take photos without getting the camera wet in the rain. It was a relief that the rain stopped. If you go down from here, you will reach a botanical garden. There is an entry fee of two lari. Children are free from entry fees. The garden is spread over acres. Mostly trees. And the walkways through it. This botanical garden is not as beautiful as the garden seen in Ooty. It also has a waterfall. From the hill above, there is a zip line for the adventure-seekers to hang on a rope and fly inside the park. It was almost 4:30 when we left the garden. Haven’t had lunch, feel very hungry. Went out looking for a good restaurant to eat at on google maps
Step out into Old Tbilisi. It really feels like a time travel to a bygone era. The wooden houses and cobbled paths were a beautiful sight. But the severity of hunger became a hindrance to enjoyment. It was confirmed that we will see the sights after eating. Old Tbilisi is situated on the slope of the hill from which we came down. That’s why the roads here are all ups and downs. After a while, I saw the sign of Marini restaurant. There seems to be no problem. We walked towards it. We Ordered Rabbit cutlet, pasta, and kebab.
The food will take some time to arrive. The places to go in the next few days are far away. Travel there needs to be planned. A friend had mentioned a tour guide who had taken them when they had come before. I thought I would call him. His name is Omar. Four days to go.
Day 1 – Kazbegi.
Day 2 – Mtskheta, Stone City,
Day 3- Martvili Canyon, Cave of Prometheus,
Day 4- Borjomi.
He said 400 dollars, ie, 100 dollars per day. The amount is less than what the hotel said. A friend who had come before had also made a good comment about Omar. There was no bargaining because of that. The deal was finalized for the said amount. He said that we can leave at 9 o’clock on time. Had to wait a while for food. But the food tasted good. When our hunger was satisfied, we went out.
Abanotubani | Sulfur Baths | Love lock bridge
The main attraction of Old Tbilisi is its “Sulphur Baths”. A part of the Mtkwari River passes through it. On its shores, there are underground springs full of sulfur. All these have been specially converted into dome-shaped brick-built bathrooms. Abanotubani is the name given to this part of Tbilisi. It means bath district. A hill slope is full of these dorms and small hotels in between. Bathing facilities are available in these bathrooms for a fixed fee. Bathing in hot water is pleasant during the cold season. These places also have massage facilities. We walked forward along the banks of the river. Two men play music with an Accordion and a drum along a wooden riverbank path.
After a short walk, you will see a wooden bridge. Its wire rows are full of padlocks. It is called the Love lock bridge. There are such bridges in many parts of the world. Here the suitors would lock the locks with their names on them. After that, the key will be thrown into the river. The lock will lie there as a token of their love.
Both sides of this path are steep hills. Looking up you can see buildings supported by wood and iron. If you walk through this, you will go to another waterfall. When we come back, the singers seen before are resting. Seeing me, one of them jumped up saying “Hello, India, Raj Kapoor”. Played the accordion and started singing “Mera Jutha Hai Japani“(An old Indian Song). It is seen in many other places. Raj Kapoor is a well-known name for Georgians, especially the elderly. After taking a photo of the singers, and gave them a small amount and returned to the hotel. Tired of long walks. Having eaten lunch late, had a light dinner, and went to sleep.